Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life

Now Accepting Applications for Spring 2018 enrollment

We offer a Masters in Humanities (with one 4 day residential each quarter) designed for the challenges of the 21st century in making people creative, more responsive to changing paradigms and technology, more authentic, grounded, psychologically healthy, insightful, intuitive and effective.

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Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life

Hybrid Humanities Masters Degree (with four residentials per year)

Our world is characterized by ecological and social challenges as well as technological change. Only a community with exceptional creativity skills can thrive in such conditions. Pacifica’s M.A. Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life is a Masters in Creativity that is specifically designed to enable students to become employees and citizens who can meet these challenges.

The Creative Life

With a framework of Jungian psychology, this hybrid Masters in Humanities fosters creativity in a uniquely effective way by drawing upon those aspects of the human psyche neglected by the constructs of post-industrial western modernity. The 21st century needs far more than the highly rationalized and mechanistic thinking perfected in the industries and sciences of the twentieth. It also needs the imagination, capacity for the new, intuitive insight into other cultures and what is not yet fully known, the ability to dream and especially the ability to engage in deep and free flowing creative collaboration.

Expanding creativity is the core of the degree by offering a Masters in Humanities that is oriented to the creative imagination, meaning the talent for making new, for re-thinking traditional structures, for deep listening to what is said and unsaid, for generating images for the not yet known or conceived, for the ability to work so intensely with others that shared visioning and collaborative worlds are made and re-made. This Masters in Creativity is for those who want to be artists, and artists of their own lives. It is above all for those who want to be artists of our future world.

A Unique hybrid Program

Therefore our unique hybrid Masters in Humanities and Creativity program has three foundations: the humanities as engaged in making culture; depth and Jungian psychology treating the psyche or soul as an intensely creative organ, and creative practice as a way of developing being human and engaging with the world. For all who want to realize their creative potential in the twenty-first century, the M.A. Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life seeks those of you who want to join a creative program not so much of the world; but for it!

Students go on to live and work more creatively, or foster creativity in themselves and others including anyone in the visual, performing, narrative, studio, and media arts; the creative side of advertising, marketing, and product development; teachers of art, literature, and the humanities; or professionals in fields such as architecture, interior design, fashion, and the film, television, and music industries.

Students in the M.A. in Engaged Humanities & the Creative Life program:

  • Discover strategies for tapping into the deep well of the psyche as a source of creativity.
  • Study how people working in any creative capacity inspire and influence each other.
  • Increase their generativity and cultivate their aesthetic sensibility and sensitivity by being in constant conversation about the creative life with faculty and peers, with great literature, classic films, and works of art spanning diverse genres, cultures, and periods of time.
  • Find rich sources of inspiration in the humanities, including the study of mythology, philosophy, psychology, history, literature, and ecology as they affect the art and craft of living and working artfully.
  • Complete two substantial creative projects and reflect upon their creative process.
  • Receive a degree that expands their vocational options and opens up new career possibilities.

Practical Careers From Engaged Humanities: Explained by Susan Rowland & Maren Hansen

“Pacifica’s M.A. in Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life enables you to conceive and incubate your own creative project either drawn from professional life in the world, or from your desire to live more authentically. Come and learn with us arts practice enhanced by the creative psyche and the ecological humanities.”
Susan Rowland, Ph.D., Chair of the M.A. Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life program

Pacifica’s creative classrooms


Pacifica’s hybrid model of learning

Chair & Faculty

The Faculty members of Pacifica’s M.A. in Engaged Humanities & the Creative Life bring a passion for education and a wealth of real-world experience into the classroom. As leaders in the fields, the members of Pacifica’s faculty include authors of international acclaim, artists, filmmakers, renowned lecturers, practicing psychologists, active psychotherapists, and philosophers.

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Program FAQs

What is a "hybrid" program?

To be specific, each 3 unit course has 30 hours of contact time (time learning with the instructor). 55% of those hours are spent in residential, and 45% are spent using D2L, our learning management system.

What does a typical quarter look like?

Each quarter contains 10 weeks of instructional time, though they will extend longer to accommodate holidays and other breaks for rest, relaxation, and reflection. Students take two 3-unit courses each quarter. The first 6 to 8 weeks of each quarter is spent reading at home and engaging in discussion and activities with the faculty and one’s classmates in D2L. Students and faculty then gather together on campus for a 4 day residential weekend (see below). Students return home and back to D2L to continue reading, discussing, and completing final assignments.

Why do we meet face-to-face with our instructor so late in the quarter?

Some instructors will assign projects as part of the coursework, and will want you to present those projects during the residential, so meeting later in the quarter allows time for the creation of those projects.

What can I expect during the residential session?

Classes begin at 9:00 a.m. on Thursdays, and end at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, in order to accommodate students who wish to travel back home that afternoon. Classes are in session from 7 to 9 hours a day, and faculty are encouraged to combine lecture, pair work, student presentations, and group discussion with experiential and embodied learning to accommodate different styles of learning and to keep the day flowing. Students can meet with faculty one-on-one during lunch and dinner breaks, and every session contains an opportunity to meet as a group with the program’s director to address concerns, raise questions, or discuss how the program is progressing for them.

The session extends to 8:30 or 9:00 in the evening, combining classes with a variety of social gatherings, special events, forums, and guest speakers.

How much time should I expect to be on D2L?

Students are expected to log in to our learning management system (Desire2Learn) several times a week, for a total of three hours per week. This will typically include time spent reading the presentation, posting and responding to discussion boards, listening to an audio file, or watching a video, though there may be other activities as well.

Experience has shown that students learning in learning management systems have a tendency to spend more time per week in those systems “in class” than their residential peers, creating a potential imbalance in their personal and academic lives. We have several measures in place to protect our hybrid students from this imbalance, including designating a “preparation week” when students and faculty are not in D2L during the week before the residential session and the three days afterward, and requiring no hours in D2L the last week of the quarter, allowing students time to complete their final assignments, and assigning other weeks as “offline weeks.” In addition, we maintain strong boundaries around how much material there is to read, especially with discussion boards: students are given word or paragraph limits to initial postings, and are given a limited number of responses they must make to each other. If students wish to continue a conversation outside of the boundaries of the assignments, each course has a Classroom Café in D2L, which is an open discussion board where students may converse freely about a topic.

Are there required days or times I have to be on D2L?

Pacifica requires that all students log into their courses in D2L on the first day of the quarter, and post something that indicates attendance. This is a Federal Financial Aid requirement, and it can be done anytime during that first day. Other than this mandatory sign-in requirement, most assignments will be due once or twice weekly so you can log in and complete them at your convenience.

Besides participating in D2L, what other sorts of work should I expect?

Reading, of course. The number of books and articles will vary by instructor but in general, expect between 800-900 pages of reading per course. Other assignments may include individual or group projects, research, presentations, and essay-writing.

What can I expect from faculty in a hybrid program?

When you are on campus, your experience of a faculty member will be the same as any residential student at Pacifica and will include a combination of lecture, discussion, group work, student presentations, engagement with film and art, and experiential learning exercises. Faculty will be available for office hours during meals so students can sign up for one-on-one time together.

Teaching styles vary, but in general, learning takes as its motto that instructors are to be “guides on the side” versus “sages on the stage.” Faculty are asked to review and participate in the discussions in D2L two or three times per week. They will typically offer general guidance to the group, rather than to individual students in this format. In other words, a student will not receive feedback on each of his or her postings; however faculty will help to facilitate the discussions for the group by offering insights and commentary. Individual faculty members’ personal teaching styles may differ, so expect variations in this regard.

Faculty are also asked to be available for students for phone conversations during the quarter. Faculty will list their phone numbers on the syllabus, but it is preferable that students should send a request for a phone conversation to the faculty via email, indicating the content of the conversation, and suggesting a few good times they can be reached. Our faculty are also attempting to maintain balance in their lives, and it is not expected that they are on D2L or available every day of the week; the expectation is the same as it is for students, that both will log in several times a week.

Part of the reason I'm drawn to Pacifica is for the opportunity to study with people of like minds. How does a hybrid program lend itself to a sense of community?

Very well. Students who have gone through our Engaged Humanities program will tell you that community builds quickly in that environment. While you may not “see” your classmates every month like a traditional Pacifica student, you will “hear” from them weekly. In fact, learning in a learning management system is particularly conducive to hearing the voices of all students, as it requires participation from everyone; students who normally may be very quiet in a traditional classroom may be more comfortable “speaking” in D2L.

Remember, too, that you’ll spend a little more than half of each course meeting face-to-face with your classmates, and over those four days per quarter on campus, you’ll continue discussions in D2L over shared meals together, you’ll watch films and have social time together, you’ll attend classes and guest lectures and work together in pairs and groups.

I've never taken a class using D2L before. What support is available to me?

Prior to the start of the program, all students will be required to participate in an tutorial to become familiar with the learning management system. For ongoing questions or support once you begin the program, you may contact the IT department via phone, or chat with them in D2L. The Program Administrator will also be available to answer your questions and provide support. In addition, there are video and written tutorials available on Pacifica’s website.

Curriculum Overview

Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life Program Format

This hybrid degree program takes advantage of distance-learning technology that allows students to work and learn in their home environments. Additionally, once each quarter, students gather on Pacifica’s Ladera Lane Campus for a four-day weekend (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) in a retreat-style residence. During these on-campus sessions, students have access to the Institute’s extensive resources and are able to further community involvement and professional collaboration. They join classmates from around the world in forming professional relationships and networks of like-minded individuals. This convenient format brings Pacifica’s graduate degree programs to global citizens and the life-long learners who otherwise might not be able to fulfill their educational calling.

The M.A. program in Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life provides an education in the humanities informed by mythology and depth psychology. The program’s unique learning format combines the best aspects of a connected, heartfelt, inter-personal experience with the convenience of distance-learning technology.

Graduation Requirements

Degree Requirements for Graduation

  • Students must complete a total of 48 units.
  • A minimum grade of C is required in each completed course.
  • A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained.
  • Students must attend at least two-thirds of each course.

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For information regarding Pacifica’s M.A. in Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life with Emphasis in Depth Psychology, please contact Rene Marchington, Admissions Advisor, at 805.879.7309 or rmarchington@pacifica.edu.

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attend this program please visit the Gainful Employment page. All of Pacifica Graduate Institute’s degree programs are accredited by the Western Association of School and Colleges (WASC) and the Department of Education to offer financial aid.